"By putting ourselves in the other person's shoes, empathy allows us to consider the consequences of our interactions for others and thus prefer positive and respectful ways of communicating. Empathy can also motivate us to act when we see a person suffering violence. Thus, encouraging empathy in youth helps them build healthy and positive relationships with their peers."
Brief submitted by ENSEMBLE pour le respect de la diversité, in the context of the Forum sur la lutte contre l'intimidation, November 2014, p. 5.
Bullying can occur in any environment (municipal or community environments, healthcare, education, social services, recreation, sports environments, etc.). All the workers (professionals, volunteers, administrators, etc.) who offer direct support to the public thus potentially may have a role to play in promoting civility, prevention of bullying or intervention, regardless of the clientele served (persons with disabilities, seniors, members of ethnocultural minorities, etc.).
The various consultations conducted by the Gouvernement du Québec in 2014 and 2015 highlighted a variety of avenues for intervention, some of which are proposed here for the benefit of all those who work with the public.
Avenues for intervention by workers
- Promote prosocial behaviours, civility and respect for diversity, because bullying is often rooted in prejudice and intolerance of differences.
- For very young children, particularly children who attend educational childcare services, focus the interventions on prevention by the adoption of empathetic, cooperative and prosocial behaviours, since there would be no question of bullying at that age.
- Know how to recognize bullying (see the definition of bullying, legal framework and glossary of related phenomena).
- Become aware of your own behaviours and the model you set for others as an adult, particularly for the youngest children.
- Agree collectively, in each environment, on the behaviours to adopt to favour good citizenship and maintain harmonious relations.
- Establish each person's roles and responsibilities to intervene if cases occur nonetheless.
- Avoid trivialization of bullying and favour safe and confidential reporting of bullying.
- Obtain information from the targeted individuals on the effects the observed acts had on them. Bullying exists only if the person targeted by the acts is affected by them. Otherwise, the attempt at bullying has failed. Nonetheless, it remains important to intervene with the perpetrators of the act to prevent them from seeking other targets or, if their acts are repeated, to prevent them from affecting the person concerned.
- Develop the self-esteem and assertiveness of the victimized persons or targeted individuals, to put an end to the current bullying or help them protect themselves against eventual acts.
- Make the witnesses aware of the importance of their role and the influence they can have in putting a stop to the acts at which they are present.
- Be careful that the witness who has acted does not become a target of bullying in turn after his/her intervention.
- Immediately make the perpetrator of the potentially bullying acts or words aware of their potential scope, the danger of affecting the targeted individual and the consequences of bullying.
- Propose alternative behaviours to the perpetrators of bullying acts.
- Provide support adapted to the characteristics of each clientele, and modulate the approach according to the special needs. For example, for some handicaped person or autistic individuals, this may involve helping them recognize bullying situations that they may not always be able to understand.
- Report acts of bullying involving a criminal component, such as theft or violence, to the management of the institution or the police.
For those who intervene with youth:
For municipal interveners:
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